Monday, July 14, 2008


The following was posted on the bloggernacle:

Yesterday in Priesthood a member of our Bishopric said the area presidency had asked our Stake to go to each of the Wards and take an anonymous poll about the California Marriage Initiative. They wanted to gauge the feelings of the local membership. They assume the First Presidency asked the Area Authorities to do this poll. Each ward was asked to create this informal poll their own way, it was not provided. So they passed out a slip of paper that asked, “What are your feelings about the Marriage Initiative?”, and then you checked marked next to these options, Strongly Support, Support, Somewhat Support, Do not Support. We then folded it and placed it into a paper bag.

This is extremely interesting. I have heard anecdotes that there has been fallout from the First Presidency's letter in some California wards (I'll post more details when I have them). Why would the Church want to get the feedback of members, if in fact the prophet had spoken and the debate was over? There really can only be one reason: there was unexpected pushback from members.

Maybe I'm grasping at straws here, but I'm having a hard time believing that rank-and-file members of the church have closed their hearts on gay issues.

Actions and reactions

Spain, with its cultural strains of machismo, is an unlikely candidate as an early adopter of gay marriage, yet in 2005 it became the third country to provide full marriage equality to homosexuals. In 2005 I was at an international scientific conference and happened to have dinner with a colleague from Spain. I asked him what was going on.

He told me that even though Spain was largely a Catholic country, most Spaniards supported gay marriage. He said that the Catholic church had lost a lot of credibility with people after they supported the brutally repressive political regime of Francisco Franco. The Catholic church made a big noise on this issue, but no one listened.

A recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times by a Republican political strategist predicts hard times for California's Proposition 8 that would outlaw gay marriage by amending the state's constitution. The speculators on the political prediction market Intrade place the odds that the amendment will pass at 30%.

I wonder if something is going on here similar to the case of Spain. When I was in California a few weeks ago for a short vacation, I got the sense from talking to people that there is overwhelming dissatisfaction with the way the country has been governed by the Republicans. The religious organizations (including the LDS Church, the Roman Catholics and the envangelicals) that are arguing against gay marriage have also been closely allied with the Bush administration. As with Spain, political tides raise or lower more than one boat.

It's way too early to say what will happen in California (as well as unbelievably jinxy), but let's suppose for a moment that gay marriage stays legal in California. The divisiveness over the campaign may push some political centrists out of the Church. Unfortunately, these are exactly the kind of people that the Church needs to maintain its balance and vitality for the next generation. If the Church moves too far rightward politically, it is going to become a fringe group.

I sometimes say fairly critical things about the Church, but at heart I wish it well. I love my Mormon family and friends, and I am completely a product of the LDS environment. I don't want the Church to purge its more mainstream members. I don't want to see the Church, my church, my ancestor's church, become a right-wing fringe group.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Signing for something

There's a great new website up called Signing for Something where people can post their letters to the brethren expressing their disagreement with the LDS Church's involvement in California. The organizers will deliver printed copies of all these letters this fall.

So, here's a rallying cry to all MoHoHawaii readers. If this is an issue that speaks to you, get your out your word processors and write a letter! I will be doing this myself soon.

P.S. Tell your friends.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The ages of man

I've always liked classical music, even as a pre-teen. However, my tastes have evolved as I have aged.

  • Before age 14 my favorite era was Baroque. Bach was my favorite composer (for example, the Brandenburg Concertos). The patterns and dissonant tension were thrilling to my precocious ears.

  • When I was in high school and college my favorite composer was Mozart. Mozart embodied a kind of genius that captivated me. Mozart is the ultimate smarty pants (but in a good way). I also found some of his music profoundly moving (for example, the Horn Concertos). I got into opera at this time of my life, and the Mozart operas (The Magic Flute and the incomparable Marriage of Figaro) led the way.
  • (Yes, I was a 16-year-old opera fan. Once on a school trip to Paris, I was able to sneak away by myself to the old Paris Opera and hear Jon Vickers sing Otello.)

  • I came out in my late twenties, at age 27 or 28. At about this time my musical tastes began to change again. Although I had always loved Beethoven (especially the symphonies and his chamber music), at this time of my life I became taken over by the passion and emotion of the Romantic era of music. I was unable to concentrate on anything else if Beethoven happened to be playing in the background. Not surprisigly it was during this period that I fell in love for the first time.

  • In my late thirties and early forties, I developed a new passion: Wagner. This appeal of this composer is hard to characterize. He's transcendent. The music of Wagner is a replacement for a belief in God (okay, not really, but you get what I mean). My favorite opera of all time is his Tristan und Isolde. This is definitely a work that you don't understand until you reach midlife. It has passions and tensions that go beyond description.

I don't know why I was thinking about this today. No reason really. It's a funny observation, though, that the evolution of my taste in music follows the chronology of music history pretty well. (Of course, I'm leaving a lot out. There are many, many composers whose work I love, and even now Bach is one of my favorites.)

I do think, and this may sound weird, that I would never have been able to open myself up to Beethoven (and Wagner) if I had not had the experience of sexual maturation that occurred only after I came out. When I was in a mixed-orientation married I was frozen in sexual immaturity. It was only after I opened myself up to the possibility of non-Platonic love that I began to understand the dynamics of our most passionate composers.